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Retailing | The Philadelphia comics and art shop Locust Moon is closing its doors as a retailer so that co-owner Joshua O’Neill can focus on a different area of the business: publishing. “[A]s publishers, we’re just getting started,” O’Neill posted on his Facebook page. “[W]e’ll now be able to focus our attentions on making books full time. we’re incredibly excited about that. locust moon is not dying — it’s still just being born.” Locust Moon has already published an Eisner Award-winning anthology of Little Nemo comics, and is running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the publication of some very early “lost” Will Eisner comics. [PhillyVoice]
Conventions | Although it may seem way too early to begin the countdown to Comic-Con International, badge sales open Saturday at 9 a.m. PT for those who attended the 2015 convention and preregistration (this isn’t the annual mad dash, which arrives in a few months). If you’re eligible, you should receive your registration code by email at least 24 hours before badge sales open. Comic-Con provides a detailed walk-through of the process. [Toucan]
Legal | The Malaysian Federal Court affirmed a lower court’s ruling that the government shouldn’t have banned two books of Zunar’s political cartoons, 1Funny Malaysia and Perak Darul Kartun. “This is a victory for all cartoonists, it tells the Home Ministry and the government that drawing cartoons is not a crime,” Zunar said. He also said the ruling means that the government must also lift bans on all his books and drop sedition charges against him. “Stop raiding this my office, stop harassing my webmaster for selling the books online, and stop raiding and threatening printers and shops involved in the production and sales,” he said. [Malaysyakini]
Legal | On the day his trial on sedition charges was due to begin, Malaysian political cartoonist Zunar threw a curve ball, asking the high court to declare the sedition law unconstitutional. The Malaysian government has repeatedly attempted to ban or censor Zunar’s cartoons, but this case actually stems from a series of nine tweets he wrote following the conviction of opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on sodomy charges; Zunar accused the court of following the wishes of the prime minister. On Friday, Zunar’s lawyers (one of whom has also been charged with sedition) filed a petition with the high court saying that the lower court that was to hear the case had no authority to do so. The Malaysian Federal Court recently dismissed a challenge that made a similar argument; Zunar’s case is now scheduled to be heard on Dec. 8, with a decision expected a week later. [Index on Censorship]
Legal | A Judge Dredd comic that makes fun of McDonald’s and Burger King is finally being reprinted in a collection, thanks to a change in the European Copyright Directive, which now allows creators to use copyrighted characters if the intent is clearly parody. In the “Burger Wars” story, first published in 1978, Judge Dredd is captured on a trip to the United States and force-fed fast food; the story includes images of Ronald McDonald and the McDonald’s logo. Another story, “Soul Food,” has a mad scientist creating versions of the Jolly Green Giant and the Michelin Man. Ben Smith of Rebellion Publishing says fans have been asking for years for these story to be reprinted in their collected editions, but they were held back for fear of legal action. When the law was changed, Smith said, they took another look: “It was like a light bulb went on. We thought: ‘Surely this means we can look at Burger Wars?’ We looked into it and here we are. This is straight-out pastiche, parody and arch satire. There didn’t seem any reason not to bring them to the public again.” [The Independent]
Censorship | Malaysian cartoonist Zunar claims Facebook removed his latest cartoon, which portrays the wife of the Malaysian prime minister as the head of a bank. Zunar, who is awaiting trial on nine counts of sedition stemming from tweets critical of the government, said the cartoon was “blocked” half an hour after he uploaded it, and subsequent efforts to upload the cartoon failed. Several of his Facebook pages display the text but no image, but the entire cartoon is gone from his main fan page. “It is really funny because normally you can re-upload the image with a different file name,” he said. “This seems like a well-executed plan by cybertroopers to block the content.” [The Malaysian Insider]
Passings | Underground comics writer Dennis Eichhorn passed away on Oct. 8 at age 70. He’s best known for his autobiographical comic series Real Stuff, which often involved tales of alcohol, sex and drugs. Published from 1990 to 1995 by Fantagraphics, the multiple Eisner-nominated Real Stuff was illustrated by the likes of Lynda Barry, Chester Brown, Peter Kuper, Joe Sacco, Roberta Gregory and Ed Brubaker. [The Stranger]
Legal | Iranian cartoonist Atena Farghadani, already serving a 12-year sentence for a cartoon depicting members of the Iranian parliament with animal heads, and under investigation for shaking hands with her male lawyer, had to endure yet another indignity in August: She was forced to undergo a “forced virginity and pregnancy test” as part of the investigation of the latter charge. “In doing so, the Iranian judicial authorities have truly reached an outrageous low, seeking to exploit the stigma attached to sexual and gender-based violence in order to intimidate, punish or harass her,” said Said Boumedouha of Amnesty International, which is calling for her release. [Amnesty International]
Conventions | After a profitable 2014, Wizard World Inc. is reporting a $1.8 million loss in the second quarter of 2015 (in contrast to a $760,000 profit during the same period last year), owing much to the rapid increase in the number of conventions it’s producing. However, as ICv2.com notes, the company is also seeing a drop in revenue per show. Wizard World also reports that its inaugural convention in China, held May 30-June 1, “was not as successful as we anticipated.” [ICv2]
Censorship | China may have banned 38 manga and anime series, including Attack on Titan and Death Note, but fans are still finding ways to read and watch them — and Death Note is one of the most popular topics on the social media service Sina Weibo. “Chinese authorities are used to a certain degree of permeability in their various bans and directives,” says Jonathan Clements, author of Anime: A History. “The issue with a lot of Chinese censorship isn’t about a blanket ban that keeps 100% of material out. It’s about making life as difficult as possible for people who actually want it. A ban like this is about restricting casual access.” [BBC News]
Censorship | During a panel at Comic-Con International, members of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund criticized a student’s attempt to have four graphic novels banned from her college campus. Crafton Hills College student Tara Shultz and her father, Craig Shultz, have called for Fun Home, Persepolis, the first volume of Y: The Last Man, and the second volume of The Sandman, all of which were included in a course on the graphic novel as literature, to be removed not only from the course but also from the college bookstore. The school has refused. CBLDF director Charles Brownstein noted that this is part of a troubling new trend: Graphic novel challenges at the college level. The CBLDF has been involved in 18 college cases so far this year, up from 10 in all of 2014. [Redlands Daily Facts]
Creators | “Opus’s [voice] came screaming back at me — true— when I faced those four empty panels that I hadn’t done since 1989,” cartoonist Berkeley Breathed told Michael Cavna, explaining why he is returning to his comic strip Bloom County after a lengthy absence. He also discusses the possibility of self-publishing rather than going with a newspaper syndicate: “Dead-tree media requires constancy and deadlines and guarantees. This flattens the joy. It also presents a huge income. It’s an interesting trade-off, isn’t it?” [Comic Riffs]
Commentary | David Brothers critiques Marvel’s plans to publish hip-hop themed variant covers, given that none of the newly announced creators for Marvel titles are black. [i am davidbrothers dotcom]
Creators | Kate Beaton talks about her family, webcomics, princesses, and her pony character’s guest appearance on Adventure Time. [Time]
A course on graphic novels as literature at a California college won’t carry a disclaimer after all, despite a statement by the school’s president that one would be included in response to a student’s complaint about adult content in some of the required reading.
According to Redlands Daily Facts, a Crafton Hills College spokeswoman said the disclaimer was never mandated, and Professor Ryan Bartlett, who teaches the English 250 course, ultimately decided against one.
“College is supposed to be a place where students can have real exchanges about sometimes difficult topics,” Bartlett said in an email. “An English major will have to read works in the literary canon (for example Shakespeare, Chaucer and the Bible) which include similar issues present in the chosen graphic novels. If we put a disclaimer on this course, then we should put a disclaimer on all literature courses, and I do not feel comfortable going down that slippery slope.”
Following a student’s protest over the contents of the graphic novels required by her English 250 class, Crafton Hills College President Cheryl A. Marshall has issued a statement saying the college will not ban any books or alter the content of the course.
I support the college’s policy on academic freedom which requires an open learning environment at the college. Students have the opportunity to study controversial issues and arrive at their own conclusions and faculty are to support the student’s right to freedom of inquiry. We want students to learn and grow from their college experiences; sometimes this involves reaffirming one’s values while other times beliefs and perspectives change. In this specific case, the syllabus distributed on the first day of class contained the list of required reading materials allowing students the opportunity to research the books and make a choice about the class. The class is one of numerous electives available for completion of the English degree. We are attempting to avoid this situation in the future and Professor Bartlett has agreed to include a disclaimer on the syllabus in the future so students have a better understanding of the course content. I know he appreciated the differing views presented by Ms. Shultz in his class.
College student Tara Shultz is the latest in a long line of people to be shocked to find that Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi’s graphic memoir about growing up during the Iranian revolution, contains violence.
A 20-year-old attending Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa, California, was so dismayed by the graphic content in four of the graphic novels required by her English 250 course — official description: “the study of the graphic novel as a viable medium of literature through readings, in-class discussion and analytical assignments” — that she and her parents are seeking to have them banned by the administration.
In addition to Persepolis, Shultz took exception to Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, the first volume of Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s Y: The Last Man, and Neil Gaiman, Mike Dringenberg & Co.’s The Sandman: The Doll’s House, due to the depictions of sex, violence and “obscenities.”
“I didn’t expect to open the book and see that graphic material within,” she told the Redlands Daily Facts. “I expected Batman and Robin, not pornography.”
Attack on Titan, Death Note and Black Butler are on a list of 38 manga and anime the Chinese Ministry of Culture has designated as “severely improper content” and banned from print or digital distribution within the country.
The ministry announced Monday it has shut down eight websites and sanctioned 29 more for carrying comics and anime that either were unlicensed or featured violent content, and it’s threatening to issue warnings and fines to websites that don’t remove the blacklisted titles.
Graphic novels | The National Arts Council of Singapore has withdrawn a $8,000 publication grant for Sonny Liew’s graphic novel The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, a biography of the Singaporean comics pioneer that depicts some tumultuous events in the nation’s history. “We had to withdraw the grant when the book The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye came out because its sensitive content, depicted in visuals and text, did not meet our funding conditions,” said Khor Kok Wah, senior director of the literary arts sector of the NAC. He did not specify what the “sensitive content” was, but the book makes satirical references to Singaporean politics and history. The publisher, Epigram, will return the $6,400 that was disbursed already and will cover the NAC’s logo on the book cover with a sticker. The book will be published next year in the United States by Pantheon. [Straits Times]
Legal | Nicaragua has refused entry to the French cartoonist Julien Berjeaut, who uses the pen name “Jul.” Berjeaut, who has done freelance work for Charlie Hebdo, was slated to be part of a panel titled “Humor against barbarity, homage to Charlie Hebdo and freedom of expression” at a conference in Managua. He made a video that was played at the event instead. Berjeaut said he doesn’t know why he was barred from the country. [Miami Herald]
Legal | Two men were questioned by police after they were spotted taking photos of the home of Laurent Sourisseau, the publishing director of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Sourisseau has been under police guard since the January attack on Charlie Hebdo‘s Paris headquarters, in which 12 people were killed. [The Local]